Posted On November 21, 2014 by Print This Post

Can a Published Author Find Life Balance? by Kelsey Browning

Welcome back to Kelsey Browning one of Romance University’s co-founders! Today she’s going to tell us how to be an author AND lead a more balanced life! Go Kelsey!

This morning, I made a boo-boo. I checked email on my iPad before I even got out of bed. Bad Kelsey! And in my in-box was a reminder from the lovely Carrie Spencer saying something like “Uh…don’t you owe me a blog post for two days from now, Ms. Forgetful?”

Okay, so Carrie did NOT call me Ms. Forgetful. But she did remind me I’d made a commitment for a post. Normally, I send guest blog posts a week or two in advance. This one, however, had slipped off my radar.

DesignedForLoveCover - SmallerWhy? Hmm…possibly because my family just moved two and a half weeks ago, my husband’s car was hit the weekend we moved, I also had a crazy case of vertigo the same weekend and ended up sleeping on a couch at a reader event. Oh, and I had a book release in late October and will have another book release on Monday (Designed for Love, Texas Nights #4!). Did I mention my novella release in early December? Um…and then there’s Thanksgiving, both my guys’ birthdays and Christmas.

Almost all the authors I know are trying to find balance in our personal and professional careers. I know it’s an issue for me, so when Dan Blank from We Grow Media recently offered a course on building a sustainable (read that again. Sustainable, not insane) career as an author, I jumped at the chance. I think Dan is a smart guy and he’s just so cute that I want to pack him up and sit him on my bookshelf. With that being illegal and possibly creepy, I settled for the class.

Since the first book in my Texas Nights series was published in August 2013, I’ve released another four books, two in the same series and two (co-authored with Nancy Naigle) in The Granny Series. By the end of 2014, I’ll have released six books and one novella. I say this not to brag but to illustrate the speed at which publishing currently moves. Back in the “good old days,” it might’ve taken an author three to seven years to do that.

I know I can’t craft a twenty- or thirty-year career, remain sane, and spend time with my family if I don’t take a breather to assess what I’m doing and figure out if I’m spending my time on the right things and people.

So how can published (or pre-published, for that matter) author find balance?

  1. First, ditch the word find. That makes it seem as if we’re skipping through the grass hunting for an elusive easter egg with a hundred dollar bill stuffed inside. You don’t find balance. You create it.
  2. What you think of as balance may be bullshit. I would apologize for the profanity, but I’m not really sorry. That’s the way I talk. I recently read a post by Michael Hyatt that impacted the way I define the word balance. You can read the post for yourself, but what I pulled from it was what we’re calling balance is actually being at rest. He said balance doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t always feel calm. That sometimes it’s like being on a Ropes course where your legs are shaking, your arms are thrown wide, and you’re hanging on like hell to the person beside you.
  3. Get (painfully) clear on what matters to YOU. Not your critique partners, not your agent, not other authors who’re “making it big,” not your readers. You. This means you have to slow down for long enough to think. Why are you chasing bestsellerdom? Nothing wrong with it, but are you doing it because it’s important to you? Or because bestsellerdom someone else’s definition of authorly success? And yes, setting your priorities is hard. That’s why so few of us do it. But people, you write books. You already do the hard shit.
  4. Once you’ve given yourself a little tough love (and no, this is not a BDSM post), look at your commitments and make some hard choices. You will need to cut some. Maybe you can no longer be PTA president, room mom, chapter president, and queen of the entire universe. Or maybe you just need to say no to that weekly coffee date. You don’t have to quit everything and squirrel yourself away in your writing cave. But you do have to make choices.
  5. Don’t just consider your writing when you’re thinking of your goals. This became clear to me when I was doing some homework for Dan’s class. I had both professional and personal long-term goals. But the short-term stuff? They all supported my writing and publishing goals. How am I supposed to have a strong, loving relationship with my husband and son when NONE of my short-term goals include them? Driving Smarty Boy back and forth to school every day is fine (and we do get some quality time), but a fifteen-minute commute does not make a relationship.

I wish these five pieces of advice would be all you need to create a balanced writer life. They’re just a drop in the bucket. But I do hope they’ve made you realize balance doesn’t float down on you like snow in Buffalo. It’s something you have to work for. And if you think you can have everything you want? Well, it just ain’t so. But the great news is with a little thought, you can make time for the pursuits and people you love most.

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What does balance mean to you? Do you think it’s attainable for authors?

And They All Lived Epiloguey Ever After by Anna Campbell

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Kelsey_Browning_-_Headshot (1)Bio: Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and co-authors Southern cozy mysteries. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a (fingers crossed) future therapy dog.

Connect with Kelsey: Email / Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest

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13 Responses to “Can a Published Author Find Life Balance? by Kelsey Browning”

  1. Great piece! It can be difficult to “create” balance, but it is possible. Been at this writing thing for a few years now, and I moved everything from my plate but my writing business (ie, child’s grown so I moved to cheap place in Caribbean, got divorced, ditched the rental properties in the states, and I cut my serial biz “habit” down to one business). Yet, still, JUST writing can still be a challenge b/c self-published authors are in “business.” And as we know, that encompasses marketing/promo, admin, backend editorial, social media, and so much more. But for me, the trick is to get what “feeds” me done first … writing! If I don’t write, I don’t eat. And, you know, the rest of the day usually falls into place beautifully after I know I’ve done the most important thing.

    Again, super piece. Thank you for sharing! Cassandra Black, Multicultural Romance Writer

    Posted by Cassandra Black | November 21, 2014, 7:26 am
    • Cassandra – I do hope you know my attention snagged on “Caribbean.” 🙂 Yes, about authors being in business. IMO, that applies to all authors–indie, hybrid and traditional.

      We write because we’re driven to, but we’re able to keep writing because it (please, God!) eventually pays the bills. I do enjoy the business part of it, although I know many authors don’t. They may choose not to prioritize some of those admin tasks, and that’s absolutely their choice. Everyone runs their art and business differently. It’s just important to know what that means to you.

      Thanks so, so much, Cassandra. I’m wishing you the very best!
      Kels

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 21, 2014, 9:26 am
  2. Morning Kelsey!

    Boy, is this post coming at the perfect time…I wake up feeling swamped, go to bed knowing I’m swamped. Some things get pushed back further and further and then I have to take an entire weekend to bring everything back up to par. And yup, family members have been giving me flack!

    It’s time to prioritize!

    Thanks for a great post!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 21, 2014, 8:50 am
    • Carrie –

      Thank YOU for the reminder about this post. Believe me, I’m not making light of creating balance. It’s hard work, and it’s never completely done. But I think to be marginally effective at it, we have to step back every so often and see where we are.

      Hope you wade your way out of Swampland soon. <3

      Kels

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 21, 2014, 9:28 am
  3. Waving at Kelsey – and Carrie!

    Great post, Carrie. For me, balance fits all your points well. It means not spending so much time focused on clinging to the teeter-totter that I forget there’s an entire playground out there. (Now, if I’d just put that into practice more often!)

    Thanks for sharing the tips.

    Posted by Barbara White Daille | November 21, 2014, 9:18 am
    • Oh, wow, Barbara – love the teeter-totter analogy (and I just love saying that word!). I forget about the slide and merry-go-round and monkey bars a lot too. That’s one of the things I’m working on – learning to play more to refill my well!

      Have a great weekend,
      Kelsey

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 21, 2014, 9:29 am
  4. Kelsey, Great post! And I love your ruthless and fun swearing. Made me laugh out loud. As someone who does run two businesses — one coaching authors and another writing in 2 genres — I’ve thrown out the word balance, and now I focus on LISTENING to myself. I’m the only one who knows when I need and want. If I want to rest, or work 10 hours, or take a day off. Balance for me always felt fake. I don’t want balance; I want a rich life. I’m constantly saying NO to things as I refine what I really want to do in my biz. With writing I’m actually saying more and more YES! I’ve written 4 novellas, a short story, 1 novel, and published another in the last 18 months. I guess for me it’s about saying NO to what I don’t want, and YES to what I want. And thanks for being the co-founder of WU. Love this blog. I always learn something new!

    Posted by Beth Barany | November 21, 2014, 1:38 pm
    • Beth –

      What a fabulous thing to hear. For a long time, I held onto that belief that everything would feel “on kilter” at some point. I’ve learned to lean in to the chaos and it’s made me a much happier–and hopefully productive–person.

      Thanks for sharing how you’re doing it. You’ve inspired me with not only what you’ve accomplished in the past few months but how happy you are about it!

      Bet you’re a great author coach!
      Kels

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 21, 2014, 4:07 pm
  5. Thanks so much for this, Kelsey. It’s a keeper. You’ve hit much of what I’m experiencing in self publishing–the breathlessness and finding ways to strike a balance. With the nature of the industry so fast, your entire existence can get consumed by churning out books to fulfill series’ demand. In the process your family–what means the most to me–gets left behind. Example: The other day I was on a writing deadline because I had to get a copy of my latest work to my editor as well as to a Beta Reader. My son interrupted me at a crucial moment with a request for home work help. When I’m working, my family usually lets me–great hubby and kids. The fact that my son came to me then meant he truly needed help. I almost told him to wait, but in a flash I realized the work could wait but he couldn’t. When I set my Mac aside and beckoned him over, the big smile on his face told me I’d done the right thing. Balance right there, but it’s something a writer has to deliberately choose to do because writing can take over your whole life to the detriment of the ones you love. Family first. Amen. Thanks again, Kelsey.

    Posted by Brigette Manie | November 21, 2014, 2:55 pm
    • Oh, gosh, Brigette – your comment gave me chills. And helped remind me to acknowledge my son all those times I’m brain-deep into whatever I’m doing. Most of the time, he’s just doing a fly-by I-love-you-Mom. And seriously, how many 14yo boys do that?

      Thank you so much for your comment. Every story, every reminder helps me make the best decision at that moment!

      Kels

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 21, 2014, 4:09 pm
  6. Kelsey – I felt like I might break out in hives just from reading your post and some of the comments here.

    I was lucky – when I was on deadline for my gardening books all those years ago, my kids were in school and I only had the dog to complain when I sat at the computer too long.

    I am awed by authors who manage to juggle their writing, their families and all the marketing required when the books come out. More power to you!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 21, 2014, 10:29 pm
    • Becke –

      I can’t say I always do a great job with it. What I have learned, however, is that “balance” isn’t a one-and-done thing. I have to constantly reassess and be mindful of the way I spend my time. It may sounds stressful, but honestly, it’s a good way to live. 🙂

      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 22, 2014, 11:42 am

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